The Phantom of the Opera (1943) Review

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The Phantom of the Opera is the final review of the month and unfortunately its the worst film in the Universal Classic Monsters Collection.

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Claude Rains who was well known for playing the Invisible Man takes on the role of Erique Claudin a violinist who is fired by the Paris Opera house after 20 years of service due to sudden arthritis in his left hand.

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Of  course anyone who knows the story of the book or stage play will know that Erique eventually becomes the Phantom and Claude Rains does an excellent job at playing both roles, in this production Christine is played by Susanna Foster, Susanna has quite an interesting past she went to a singing and acting school with the likes of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney she was only 17 when she took on the lead female role in Phantom of the Opera, two other big names in the film were Nelson Eddy who played Antone Garron and Edgar Barrier who played police officer Raoul Daubert.

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In my personal opinion the best part of the movie was the sets, the Paris Opera House used in this adaption of the book was the same set that was built for the 1925 film of the same name starring Lon Chaney, if the Paris Opera House set wasn’t impressive enough another great set is the Phantoms home hidden underneath the Opera, the set is very gothic which helps to set the mood before the love interest rips off the Phantoms mask revealing his disfigurement.

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The 1943 adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera is ok and that’s unfortunately the best I can say for the movie, I really enjoyed the cast they were campy and fun, the movie used comedy in a way that it didn’t ruin the dark romantic atmosphere of the movie, Claude Rains did a fantastic job at playing the Phantom and the sets were all extremely memorable, the film was even filmed in Technicolour but even with all this going for it something was missing and that was the the monster movie I was promised, this is not a monster movie and I’m not even sure if I could class it as a horror, the Phantom of the Opera is more of a romantic drama with a dark coat of paint, even twilight has a vampires and werewolves but would you cast that a horror? At least Twilight had monsters which is something I cant say about this so why on earth was it included in a classic monster collection? To most it’s the Phantom of the Opera but to me its more like the Phantom of the Mediocre.

The Bluray for Phantom of the Opera wasn’t very generous with its bonus features it does have a documentary and a commentary track   but that’s about all that’s worth looking at.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

Thank you for joining me for all of these reviews, all of these movies had a great effect on horror movies today and even though they are old, most of them are not in colour and the effects aren’t great compared to CGI but they are still great films that need to be seen if only to help you appreciate how far film has come over the years.

Happy Halloween

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

 

 

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The Wolf Man (1941) Review

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The Wolf Man is quite a peculiar production as for an older film it doesn’t throw the possibility of a monster into your face, it is entirely possible that Larry Talbot didn’t actually get turned into a werewolf and it may just be the trauma of him killing a wolf and the old folk tales that have driven him into madness and turned him into a serial killer who doesn’t know that he is a murderer.

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The Title role is played by Lon Chaney Jr who is the second son of Lon Chaney aka the man of a thousand faces, the Wolf Man is a very sympathetic monster and I would argue that he is the most sympathetic of the Universal Monsters even more so than the Frankenstein Monster because even though the Monster didn’t understand his actions and didn’t realise he was causing harm Larry Talbot had no control over his actions at all when he transformed into the Wolf Man and once he transformed back into a man he couldn’t even remember what he had done just a few hours before.

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The make up for the Wolf Man was once again created by Jack Pierce who did work in some of the previous movies we have taken a look at this month, during the production process it is a well known fact that Lon Chaney Jr and Jack Pierce didn’t get along at all, the photograph above is very famous as it looks like Chaney is about to punch Jack Pierce in the face and while many believe it to be genuine I personally believe that Chaney is just messing around and having a laugh.

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A few famous face made their way into the Wolf Man including big stars Claude Rains and Bela Legosi, other well known actors include the likes of Maria Ouspenskaya and Evelyn Ankers.

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The sets and prop design for the Wolf Man are absolutely beautiful, from Talbot castle to the design of the silver cane and the most amazing set design has got to go to the forest where the Wolf Man makes most of his kills, the designers added a mystifying fog for a more spooky effect but I like to think that the fog is to symbolize getting lost in the forest while trying to hide from the wolf in a similar manner to Red Riding Hood or broadway productions such as Into the Woods.

the_wolf_man_1941_poster_2_by_smalltownhero The Wolf Man is a really fun movie to watch, unlike the Invisible Man which used a lot of comedy to entertain its audience the Wolf Man is fun due to its fast pace, it has a good build up to the monster but unlike some films it doesn’t wait too long for its reveal, the movie is quite action packed for a horror and I am sure it would have scared the pants off people back in the day, a cool fact is that the Wolf Man created the legacy that were wolves can only be killed by silver and also that if they bite another person they too will transform into a were wolf.

With his hairy make up and terrifying growl the Wolf Man is a horror movie to watch every year.

The Wolf Man is generous with its Bonus Features it includes four documentaries, original trailers and a commentary track

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

The Invisible Man (1933) Review

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The Invisible Man is a bit of a cheat this month, it is part of the Universal Classic Horror collections but most people would say its belongs more in the Science Fiction Genre as it doesn’t do to much for it to be considered a Horror movie.

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Claude Rains plays the scientist Jack Griffin who is the Invisible Man, for most of the picture Jack Griffin’s face is covered completely in bandages but I find he is more fun when you cant see him, this is due to Claude Rains past work as a theater actor, he had only worked in silent movies before he was hired by James Whale for the titular role of the Invisible Man, a fun fact of the casting process for the movie is that everyone thought that Claude Rains audition for the film was over the top and generally quite terrible however James Whale couldn’t stop laughing at how funny Claude Rain was and it convinced him to hire Rains for the leading role of the film.

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Two of my favorite performances are by E.E Clive who plays the innocent and witty constable Jaffers and Una O Connor who plays the emotional bar owner Jenny Hall, she gives a very over the top performance filled with screaming and crying, a lot of people would likely find this annoying but in a weird way I find it charming.

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The effects in the Invisible Man were ground breaking back in 1933, this was before green screens and CGI so getting an invisibility effect to work was extremely difficult, when the Invisible Man had no clothes on the effect of him being in the room was done using cleverly placed wires which can be pulled to drag furniture and other objects, but when a shirt of trousers were to float in mid air and move as if they were being worn by an invisible person the effect was done by placing Claude Rains in a black velvet suit against a black background and it was very tediously pulled off using multiple shots in a matte process.

The Invisible Man is not a very scary film but it is a very impressive piece of cinema history, the effects are amazing, the acting is very over the top but also very funny and the wonderful cast really helps to make the film a beloved classic.

The Blu-Ray is unfortunately lacking in special features it does have one documentary and one commentary track however compared to the last three movies we have taken a look at this is rather disappointing.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com